Atlanta jury acquits hedge fund manager of insider trading

An Atlanta jury acquitted a New Jersey hedge fund manager Monday who federal prosecutors had accused of making illegal trading profits based on sneak previews of not-yet-released financial results of Carter’s Inc., the Atlanta-based clothing maker.

In a verdict in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Steven E. Slawson was acquitted of all 34 counts of insider trading, according to his attorney, Todd Harrison.

“This case was another example of the government overreaching in insider trading cases. My client was at the end of a chain of information, and he had no idea that other people in the beginning of the chain were stealing confidential information. Luckily, the jury understood this and acquitted him of all counts, avoiding a wrongful conviction of an innocent man,” said Todd Harrison.

Prosecutors with the Atlanta U.S. Attorney’s Office couldn’t be reached for comment. They had alleged that Slawson had used information on Carter’s financial results in trades for more than five years.

In related insider trading cases, two former Carter’s executives were convicted of insider trading and sentenced to federal prison and ordered to return more $1.7 million.

Slawson’s acquittal comes only a week after federal investigators accused four metro Atlantans of being part of and international conspiracy that reaped more than $100 million in illegal profits by hacking into corporate earnings reports before they were released.

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the two Ukrainian hackers stole the financial reports and other sensitive press releases and sold them to 30 traders in the U.S. and overseas. Four people in Alpharetta, Cumming and Suwanee were arrested last week on securities fraud and other charges.